The Science of Intimate Relationships

The Science of Intimate Relationships

The Science of Intimate Relationships

The Science of Intimate Relationships


The Science of Intimate Relationships represents the first interdisciplinary approach to the latest scientific findings relating to human sexual relationships.

  • Offers an unusual degree of integration across topics, which include intimate relationships in terms of both mind and body; bonding from infancy to adulthood; selecting mates; love; communication and interaction; sex; passion; relationship dissolution; and more
  • Summarizes the links among human nature, culture, and intimate relationships
  • Presents and integrates the latest findings in the fields of social psychology, evolutionary psychology, human sexuality, neuroscience and biology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and clinical psychology.
  • Authored by four leading experts in the field<120096166


The front cover of this textbook is by the noted artist Calum Colvin, who is professor of fine art photography at the University of Dundee in Scotland, uk. the picture is a contemporary reading of a classic statue from the eighteenth century depicting Cupid and Psyche by Canova (currently in the Musée du Louvre). the Greek legend of Cupid and Psyche can be traced to the second century ad. It starts with Cupid being sent by Venus (Cupid’s mother) to pierce Psyche with his arrow so she would fall in love with a vile creature (placed there by Venus) when she awoke. Venus was jealous of Psyche because of her renowned beauty. the plan goes awry when Cupid accidentally pricks himself with his own arrow and falls head over heels in love with Psyche. the legend, as legends do, goes through many twists and turns before they finally get together and live happily ever after (literally, as Psyche was rendered immortal like Cupid).

If you look closely at the picture on the cover, you can see that it is not quite what it seems at first glance. It was created in a rather complicated fashion by arranging a collage of material from an ordinary lounge (a radio, a couch, a light bulb, a book, and so forth), then partly painting and photographing the arrangement from a certain angle. the image is finally printed as a large-scale photograph. This picture illustrates a major theme in this textbook; namely, that love, passion, and intimacy are powerful forces that can seem exotic, yet at the same time are woven through the fabric of ordinary life, forming part, as they do, of the bedrock in human nature.

When teaching courses on intimate relationships, we (the authors) sometimes ask our students to what extent personal experiences in relationships might help or hinder the scientific study of relationships. We typically find that students are divided in their views. Some point out that personal experiences of love, jealousy, intimacy, interpersonal conflict, sex, and so forth, all too readily blind the perceiver to the variability across individuals in how such phenomena are experienced, and such experiences are not especially informative about the causes for such phenomena. Others argue, again quite reasonably, that personal experiences can lead to insights and should not be thought of as existing outside the science of intimate relationships. Most agree that experiencing emotions like love, jealousy, and grief (illustrated in the legend of Cupid and Psyche) are, if nothing else, convincing demonstrations of their power.

We suspect that many scientists who study intimate relationships are initially motivated one way or another by their own personal experiences, but scientists also understand the severe limitations of relying on such personal experiences to build a scientific . . .

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